Last Updated on January 4, 2021

Today, I want to talk to you about helping your learners to remember what they’ve learned. This is especially relevant because, as a freelance or corporate trainer, we are dealing with adult learners, and adults do not always absorb information as easily and in the same way as young children tend to do.

Help adult learners remember what they've learned

So far, in ‘Trainers BootCamp’, we have covered how to motivate learners, how to get them to pay attention, and how to create a great learning and teaching environment, both physically and mentally.

But how do you get participants to at least remember the most important points from your training? I have listed below 10 tips that will help you do just that.

1. Include a Variety of Learning Styles in the Teaching

Learning styles for adult training

By variety, I mean appealing to a variety of senses and learning styles.

Learning styles include, for example, whether people prefer to learn on their own or through social interactions and discussions. In addition, some people may prefer to learn things in a logical sequence and break down information, while others like to see the big picture.

If you involve more than one sense and learning style, the multisensory nature of your teaching will allow the learners’ memories to create more hooks to ‘attach’ the information to.

So, you can use visuals by showing videos, photos and graphics.

You can ask participants to draw mind maps and include other activities that involve more than one learning style.

2. Tell a Story (an Anecdote) to Contexualise the Learning

Telling a story helps learners to put information into context and create a sequence.

It is even better if the story includes emotional elements, as emotional connections help people remember. So, include mentioning how the characters felt, for instance.

When you tell a story, try to include as many vivid details as you can, in order to engage more than one sensory channel. For example, you might want to describe a scene in visual terms by mentioning visual details. Or, you might want to use gestures to emphasize points (but without overdoing it).

In addition to helping information stick, telling a story is also a good way to create rapport between you and your participants.

3. Review and Revisit What Has Been Taught

Telling a story to make employee training more enjoyable

Make sure to connect new ideas with concepts you covered previously. The idea is that learning needs to be reinforced by revision and practice.

So, activities will help participants to put in practice the concepts you introduced.

Likewise, connecting to a previously covered concept is a way of revising.

4. Use Logical Sequences That Learners Will Remember

Learners tend to remember better if there is a logical sequence in what you teach. For example, make sure that the topics you teach are presented in some logical sequence, that there is some sort of connection.

Also, presenting information in clusters of related items will help participants remember.

If your teaching topics are disjointed from one another, the participants will get distracted trying to figure out the connections.

5. Guide Learners to Discover Information

When you introduce a new concept, rather than just exposing that concept to your participants straight away, try to guide them towards discovering it.

For example, you can introduce the topic with questions to your audience. Or you could ask them to do an activity such as a group discussion.

A learner who has to discover a concept is more likely to remember it later on.

Discovery is also a good way to keep your participants’ attention. If somebody has to answer a question or find out a solution, they will be more likely to listen.

6. Don’t Go Too Fast When Teaching

You need to give time to your participants for reflection. If you throw too much information at them too quickly, they will not be able to follow you. Also, you can use pauses for effect, to stress a particularly important point.

Do not go too slowly either though, otherwise, participants will get distracted. Keep a reasonably slow but steady pace, so that the session flows.

This is not always easy to achieve, I know. You will learn with experience how to pace yourself. Also, every audience is different. So, how fast you can go over the materials depends on things such as their engagement and their previous knowledge of the topic.

In any case, always pay attention to your participants’ body language and to what they say, as this will help you gauge if you are going too fast or too slowly for them.

7. Allow Reflection Time to Go Through What’s Been Learned

Leave time at the end of the session for participants to reflect on what they have covered, and tell them why they have been asked to reflect in this way.

You can use activities such as discussions and brainstorming to help students reflect on what they have learnt.

Never underestimate the importance of reflection. This is a good way for learners to internalise what you taught them and also to refresh their memory as they go over the materials.

Classroom lesson plans

8. Keep the Concepts You Teach Simple

Try to keep things simple by structuring the information clearly and by only focusing on one thing at a time.

Teach one concept at a time and also ask participants to focus on one thing at a time.

For example, if you are focusing on a flipchart, turn off the projected slides. Or, if you are using slides, do not have too much writing on each slide and ideally, you should have one concept per slide.

If you are using PowerPoint, you can use animations, so you reveal only one idea at the time on the same slide. However, keep animations simple and avoid jazzy effects such as flashing and bouncing, as these are too distracting and can be irritating for many people.

9. Keep the Learning Relevant and Make It Useful

As mentioned in lesson 1, adult learners are motivated to learn things that they perceive as useful and relevant to their lives. As a result, they will remember such information better.

You can use metaphors and analogies to connect new information to what is relevant to them.

10. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions is one of the most successful techniques not only to check if learners understood but also to help them reflect on their learning.

Questions should be easy enough for everyone to be able to give an answer but open so that it can stretch everyone.

What Next

I hope you found this lesson useful. Tomorrow, we will talk about feedback. How do you give effective feedback to your participants? Also, how you gather useful feedback from them about your teaching?

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Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds

Valeria has been involved with education for over 16 years. She has taught in the UK at the University of Bath and Cardiff Metropolitan University (where she got her PhD), in addition to working as a researcher at Exeter University. Valeria additionally has several years of experience of also working with Ofsted and Cardiff University in management roles & is she is the founder of Symonds Training.